Jesus called a little child and had her stand among them. And He said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 18:2-4 Red is the rose by yonder garden grows and fair is the lily of the valley. My flower, my first little girl, has birthed her flower, her first little girl. Like when Jesus was a young boy and Mary could make all things right when he experienced a hurt, I could do the same for Hannah Rose, when she was a little girl, like the day I saved her life, while she choked on a bite of hot dog. However, when Jesus was on his way to the cross, his mother was helpless to heal His situation, just as I am now. As Anselm of Canterbury said, “For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this I believe - that unless I believe I shall not understand.” The silence in our home is as deafening as it was at Lily’s birth. We find great comfort in knowing that as her rosebud lips first parted to speak, it was to praise her Jesus! God obviously ordained the selection of her special name, for when Hannah Rose named her Lily Katherine, she wasn’t aware that Katherine, as well as Lily, also means purity. From the start, HR knew that Lily was special to God, and would be a pure set-apart girl for Him! The inspiration for Lily came from Song of Solomon 2:2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. God is good for He has separated Lily unto Himself where the pain, sin, temptations, and suffering of this fallen world can never touch her. She will never taste the saltiness of tears. She will never have to battle the world, the flesh and the devil. She will never have the opportunity to reject Jesus. Hannah Rose’s Lily will remain forever pure! We take exceeding comfort in that! Opening her sparkling, blue eyes for the first time, she beheld her Saviour as He cradled her in His loving arms. This nine month journey has been precious. First of all, and most importantly, Lily saved her mother from her rebellious, back- slidden condition, leading her back to Jesus. HR’s sacrificial love for her Lily brought my prodigal daughter back home to her family. God knew she would need our support, love and strength as she endured a difficult pregnancy and the ultimate loss of her little flower. For the girls’ club to lose its newest member is a hard pill to swallow, especially as the earth is bursting forth with new life resurrecting with the beauty and promise of spring. We three immensely enjoyed the time God gave us with Lily: relishing deep, lively discussions and Bible study on living holy lives, forgiveness, repentance, God’s abundant love and His truth, card making, shopping, planning, fulfilling Hannah Rose’s (HR would always say it was Lily’s) food cravings, feathering our nest, making ready her nursery, going to the 4-D Imaging Center where we found out conclusively that she was a girl, enjoying ourselves with good friends at the cozy tea party baby shower in our home on February 13, appointments with Dr. March (how appropriate is his name?), ultrasounds to view our little love and watch her heart beat, traveling, weekly LifeCare classes and the wonderful support and friendships afforded us there, going on a tour of the Rex birthing center, spending all day at the Kids’ Exchange where we bought a matching stroller and swing for only $40., watching numerous birthing programs, as well as many hearty laughs at funny theoretical scenarios we‘re famous for. All of these activities were engaged in with exceeding delight. During her first ultrasound, we quickly became aware that Lily was a spunky girl, as she showed off her many flips. During each ultrasound, she would look directly at us so we could see her pretty, delicate facial features. Some of Lily’s favorite foods were strawberries on cereal, hash browns, Chick-fil-A, and pizza. Her homecoming outfit was the first purchase we made, even before it had been determined conclusively that she was indeed a girl. However, we just knew in our hearts that she was. That very special outfit is the one she’ll be buried in. It’s pink, bearing roses on the dress and hat in honor of her mother. Her brown shoes were a symbol of the possibility and potential her life promised. From the midst of our dashed hopes and dreams arose God’s higher plan. While shopping, Hannah Rose always knew where she could find me - in the baby clothes section of any store. Lily experienced many fun trips with us. Her twin uncles even moved home from VA to NC so they could be with their first little niece as she grew. She traveled to Thousand Islands in July when she was just a wee one. As she grew, she had fun with her adoring uncles, Adam and Joseph, at the Panthers/Eagles game in Charlotte on September 13, and in October, she was with the girls’ club when Grace took us for a brief respite to Topsail Island. She spent a week at Massanutten where her mother has enjoyed fun family vacations since she was a baby, and attended the annual banquet for the Pregnancy Centers of Central Virginia. She too was rejuvenated as we spent a restorative week at our retreat haven, with our devoted little charges, Luke and Lili, on Apple Green Lane in November. She tried to be born in Philly when we were there at Christmas time for the Eagles/Broncos game. Along with the rest of us, she had fun visiting historic points of interest, gawking at skyscrapers, traversing cobblestone streets, discovering quaint coffee shops and indulging in authentic Philly cheese steak subs. In January, she was with us as we marched in the annual Raleigh Walk for Life. She enjoyed listening to Copeland, HR’s favorite band, at their farewell tour in Chapel Hill early in March. All the music Lily heard helped her prepare the myriad dance moves she spent nine months perfecting for the viewing pleasure of her Master as she dances on streets of gold before Him. Of course, we looked forward to her first Easter, pushing her in her stroller on numerous walks, having her sleep in her comfy Moses basket next to her Dukes as she toiled in her garden, taking her to Emerald Isle for her mommy’s twenty-first birthday, her first Christmas, her first birthday, rocking her as we sang lullabies, hearing her say, “ma ma,“ and laugh for the first time, feeling her soft, chubby arms hugging me in return, even changing her dirty diapers. Our arms are empty but our hearts are full of precious memories we will hold forever dear! On our merry way rejoicing to the Rex Birthing Center early Tuesday morning, we could never in our wildest dreams have imagined that shortly after arriving there, we would become aware that our precious little lamb had died several days before. Astute Emmaline pointed out to us while Hannah Rose was in labor that it was 3-16. Elaborating further as I appeared puzzled, she said, “John 3:16.” How special! That was my dear dad’s favorite Bible verse. It’s engraved on his grave marker and she will be laid to rest by him. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. It’s been encouraging and motivating to read all the chapter 3, verse 16 Scriptures in the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Both HR and I shared the thought that the sky was gloomy because Jesus was weeping along with us. As the sun slipped behind the clouds, God’s Son brought the peace that passes all understanding, Jesus’ healing balm. After she realized Lily was dead, during her long labor, Hannah Rose’s sparkling blue eyes appeared to see heaven, her spirit was supernaturally sweet and she displayed such strength. She truly gave Jesus all authority, and He was glorified through the entire experience. At the same time we said, “hello” to our new joy, we were also required to say, “goodbye.“ Being afforded the blessing of spending time holding and rocking her was healing. In the true, inspirational book The Hiding Place, Betsy tenBoom tells her sister Corrie and the other women in the concentration camp with them that no matter how deep the pit, God is deeper still. The joy Lily brought will always be with us, even during this most difficult part of our journey, because happiness depends on happenings, while joy depends on Jesus! A tiny heart beating steadily for nine months has found its home in Him! I want to encourage each of you to heed what we‘re commanded in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Realize too that the heart cannot exalt in what the mind rejects. Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord - teach me Lord to wait. ~Isaiah 40:31 As we have the need for everyone to mourn Lily’s untimely death with us, we also want you to join us in celebrating her lovely life with us! We lift our eyes to the Maker of the mountains we can’t climb!
I surrendered my allegiance to Jesus in a stone Catholic chapel while a college student. My four children are my magnum opus: twin sons Joseph Linden and Adam Edward, Hannah Rose and Laurel Emmaline.
My dear dad, eldest of ten, strove for and achieved excellence at whatever he did: surrendering his allegiance to Jesus and serving Him his entire life, most proficient sharpshooter during his stint in the Marines; scouted not once, but twice, to pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers; struck Willie Mays out; valedictorian at Crozet High, Belmont Abbey and at UVA. While a Marine, he appointed himself as THE man to ensure his mates came safely back to the ship after carousing on land. His exemplary mother, Katherine Kirk Bain, was Mother-of-the-Year for VA in 1966. She was my best friend until her death at age 99 in 2000. I miss her always!